SMP Theatre in 2019

SMP 2019 – A Year in Review – Ellie Ashby, Chair(wo)man

Well here we are. 2020 has arrived, not only a new year but a new decade. 2019 is officially over, and what a year it has been here at SMP.

New Year’s Day 2019 saw us again representing the London Borough of Enfield at the London Lord Mayor’s New Year’s Day parade. The theme this year was ‘Welcome the World’ so we presented our vision of an English country garden picnic come to life, complete with dancing maypole. Spending the first day of the new year dancing through central London together has been a wonderful way to kick off 2017, 2018 and 2019, and we were so honoured to be asked to represent the borough three years in a row.

January was a busy month as we then moved swiftly on to our pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. We take great pride in producing one of the best amateur pantomimes around and this was no exception. The week was particularly special to all of us as it was not only our last performance at the Intimate Theatre, but the last performance there at all. The final show and get out on the Sunday was bittersweet as we said goodbye to our beloved home. Many tears were shed – of sadness, of anger, of frustration and of laughter at all the happy memories made there. We continue to fight against the plans to demolish the Theatre every step of the way, but we are equally proud that, if Snow White does prove to be the last show ever played on that historic stage, we gave it a fitting send off.

Luckily we had one of our favourite events of the year in the calendar very soon after to help ease the Post Show Blues. Our principal cast journeyed to St. Elizabeth’s in Much Haddam to present an abridged version of the show to the residents there. Thank you to all of the staff and residents, as ever, for welcoming us so warmly.

A brief pause and then it was on to our June 2019 summer show. Again, this marked a big change to our usual programming. Not a musical, but Shakespeare in the form of Much Ado About Nothing, and not on a traditional stage but an immersive promenade production in the beautiful surroundings of Bury Lodge Park. Of course, we made sure it was Shakespeare with an SMP twist. Producing a full play outdoors, complete with lighting, music and cream teas (!) was a huge challenge but as ever we are lucky to have lots of very clever people who help make it possible. The positive feedback for the production was overwhelming and we hope to return to the park in the future with more outdoor immersive theatre.

The following summer months was not our usual restful period. Alongside having to leave the Intimate Theatre we also were informed we could no longer use our long standing rehearsal, costume and set storage spaces. An enormous shout out to all those involved in finding and providing the solutions, and in helping move everything over safely – a mammoth undertaking.

Panto season was then upon us again, earlier than usual as our move to the Chingford Assembly Hall meant the show being pushed forward into December. Not daunted by putting on three full scale productions in one calendar year rather than our usual two, we threw ourselves back into panto land to present Cinderella. We were pleased to welcome lots of new faces to the group, including our children’s chorus. The lead up to show week wasn’t always smooth sailing as we had to navigate the technical and logistical challenges of a new venue, but the show was another great success sprinkled with SMP magic.

Away from the stage lights it has also been a very exciting year for many members in their personal lives. Weddings, engagements, babies, new jobs and house moves have all featured. As it was recently put, SMP is ‘a bunch of people that came together to put on shows, made friendships and now we’re at each other’s weddings’. Congratulations to all those members of our big, weird, beautiful extended SMP family who have had so much success and happiness off stage this year.

One final note before I sign off. There are so many people to thank this year for helping keep as afloat through these turbulent times. I hope we as a group have made our gratitude clear throughout the year. I am not one to single people out, but it wouldn’t be fitting to leave this decade and move into our next without mentioning our Star Of The Decade (initially self-proclaimed but somehow it has stuck), Mr Warren McWilliams. We keep trying to thank him but he won’t let us so all I will say is this: there are not enough words in the world. Thank you.

And so here we are. The beginning of 2020, and many exciting things to come, not least our summer show Legally Blonde in June 2020 at the Millfield Theatre. Star Of The Decade is now officially back up for grabs so if you fancy this almighty accolade and would like to get involved, on stage or off, please get in touch below at….